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Isn’t it time to ask ourselves some questions?

Do you remember when everyone stopped moving to Dubai? It was peaceful then. Tranquil even. The roads ran freely and you could always find a seat on the Metro. I enjoyed that period. Post-crash, before Dubai began to resurface. It was mellower.

I always felt that Dubai would eventually wither, or reach a point where it was no longer relevant. Now I believe the opposite to be true. 2014 will prove that I’m sure. The city’s importance as a centre of stability and progressive Arab governance will increase exponentially, bringing with it both opportunities and challenges for the advertising and media industry.

However, questions remain for those of us who live and work in this city. They are questions that I believe those working in the ad industry need to ask themselves.

Have we progressed – and are we likely to – as an industry? The landscape may have changed dramatically over the past 10 years, but the industry remains fundamentally the same. Limited transparency, poor data, corruption, and a network of influential relationships plague the industry.

Do we have the talent? Talent has always been an issue. As I’ve said before, both the advertising and media industries are stuck in a washing machine cycle, with the same people spinning around in the same enclosed space. Occasionally some fabric softener or stain remover is added, but it basically remains the same. Same people, different agency. Those who shine escape when the door is opened. New people arrive and join the cycle, or are spat out.

Is Dubai a first tier global city when it comes to the question of creativity? I’ve asked this before too, but it remains relevant, especially if Dubai’s importance is only set to increase. Is it a city that can attract and retain the world’s most innovative talent? Has it enough global kudos to be talked about in the same breath as New York, Tokyo and London? Has it sufficient eclecticism, energy, seats of learning, art and music to inspire?

Aren’t we all just cheats and frauds? We are, as an industry, winning more awards than ever before on the global stage, but is it for real work? Is it genuine? Does it deserve the accolades it achieves? Some of the region’s work is now talked about at a global level, but fame still eludes us. And it will continue to elude us for as long as those
who choose to cheat and slither and con continue to cheat and slither and con.

The industry at large has to answer these questions in 2014, or at least attempt to address them. Individuals, too, should assess their position. Because if you’ve answered in the negative to the first three questions, why are you here? 2014 needs to be a year of change and transformation for the industry. Otherwise, what’s the point?

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